Quinoa with Moroccan Winter Squash Stew

February is almost over, but winter is still hanging on in Cleveland. There's a thick blanket of snow on the ground, and a distinct lack of good produce to be found; I've just about eaten my share of potatoes and I don't think I can bear to look at another apple. Unfortunately, the farmers market doesn't start until April -- and we won't see any local tomatoes until late May, at the earliest! What's a girl to do?

Fall back on an old favorite, butternut squash. But rather than simply roasting it, why not go for something with punch? This moroccan stew calls for almost a pantryful of spices, but they meld together in a way that makes this dish incredibly satisfying. And the colors -- the colors! They'll add a little sunshine to any overcast day.

Quinoa with Moroccan Winter Squash Stew:

(slightly modified from Bon Appetit)

For the stew:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp Hungarian sweet paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Pinch of saffron
1 cup water
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 cups 1" cubes of butternut squash (from a 1.5lb squash)
2 cups 3/4" cubes of carrots

For the quinoa:
1 cup quinoa
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 cups water
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

For the stew:
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; saute until soft, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Mix in paprika and next 8 ingredients. Add 1 cup water, tomatoes, and lemon juice. Bring to boil. Add squash and carrots. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)

For the quinoa:
Rinse quinoa; drain. Melt butter with oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and carrot. Cover; cook until vegetables begin to brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, salt, and turmeric; saute 1 minute. Add quinoa; stir 1 minute. Add 2 cups water. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover; simmer until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.

Rewarm stew. Stir in half of the parsley. Spoon quinoa onto platter, forming well in the center. Spoon stew into well. Sprinkle over remaining parsley.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.
(although, it was so tasty that we ended up polishing off most of it for lunch)

Bon App├ętit, January 2006

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Rainy Day Fish Stew

One of the rainy days last week put me in mood for a soup. The grocery had a sale on Tilapia, so I relied on a fish stew that has been a favorite recipe for years. The recipe changes every time it's made, but is always serious comfort food. This is the latest version I could decipher from the scribblings in our recipe journal.

Rainy Day Fish Stew

6 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups chopped fresh tomato or 14 oz can of diced tomato, depending on the season
8 oz clam juice
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2/3 cup white wine
1 1/2 lb white fish fillets (tilapia, halibut, cod, sole, sea bass, etc.) cut into 2 inch pieces
Touch of dry oregano, thyme, pepper
Splash of Tabasco
3 tblsp tomato paste (We sometimes use "Italian Style" tomato paste and skip adding oregano and thyme)
1 large potato, diced rather small
One bunch of fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, roughly chopped

Heat oil in a large heavy pot. Add the onions and garlic and saute for 4 minutes. Add half of the chopped parsley and stir for 2 minutes. Add tomato and tomato paste, then cook for 2 more minutes.

Add clam juice, lemon juice, white wine, oregano, thyme, pepper and potato. Simmer until potato is cooked through. Add fish and simmer until fish is just falling apart. Ladle into bowls and finish with generous amounts of fresh parsley.

The leftover wine goes well with dinner and stew would not be nearly as delicious without a loaf of crusty bread to eat with it. Our bread, of course, usually comes from Corbo's bakery in Little Italy.

Original recipe from Elise's father.

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